Brasserie Cooking Class Series: A consuming passion

Anticipation
had long been simmering since the first Brasserie Cooking Class Series when the
Cricket Square restaurant held its second chef’s table demonstration and presentation
on 20 June. In fact, the first class had proved so popular that this time tickets
were issued to avoid last-minute attendees taking the places of registered
guests.

Small and intimate class

Classes
were purposely limited to 12 people to keep them intimate, and one could have
almost cut the excitement with a knife as Dean Max, the head chef at Brasserie,
Brad Phillips, the establishment’s executive chef, and visiting chef Ken
Vedrinski greeted everyone.

Despite
the rock star status of the James Beard finalists, Chef Dean and Chef Ken
quickly put participants at ease, serving up fascinating how-tos, must-dos and
anecdotes laced with the passion that comes from being seasoned proponents of
the culinary arts.

The
Brasserie’s pristine kitchen, with its immaculate cavernous ovens, freshly
scrubbed tiles – and gleaming steel surfaces you could literally have eaten
your dinner off, was a fitting stage for the fascinating insiders’ guide on how
to prepare and present a winning three-course menu.

The
two-and-a-half-hour class included several accountants, a chef on a busman’s
holiday and a visiting film director. Attendees who had come seeking enlightenment,
or at the very least a few scraps of knowledge from the chefs’ table, were not
disappointed.

A well-balance menu

Having
fine-tuned their menu to make the most of what was “freshest in the way of
seasonal and local produce”, the chefs handpicked a selection of fresh herbs
from the Brasserie’s garden earlier that morning, and presented a nicely
balanced menu.

Certified
sommelier Kyle Kennedy served a spicy mango martini using Brasserie garden
peppers and local mangoes, which infused the rich flavour of Carie mangoes with
the spicy warmness of the peppers and proved a sophisticated and refreshing combination.
The curtain raiser finished, and their credentials dispensed with, each chef
demonstrated a course with the others chipping in. Participants were invited to
add to the mix with whatever questions and comments came to mind, which further
helped break the ice so that the time flew by.

Thinking globally, eating locally

The
appetiser of Chilled Summer Gazpacho with Satin Snapper Ceviche won several
converts to the cool charms of the cold Latin soup, which is ideally suited to
Cayman’s tropical climate. Conversation heated up as participants commented on
the smooth and piquant flavours of the soup that had been married with a dollop
of ceviche, its nutty texture aided by finely chopped toasted almonds, celery,
green pepper, cilantro and freshly squeezed lime juice. The dish was served
with a Loimer Gruner Veltiner (Austria 2008).

Grilled
Beef tenderloin – rubbed in extra virgin olive oil, tied and seasoned – with
Stuffed Vidalia Onion was the main meal. It’s amazing how aromatic a handful of
freshly ground cumin seeds can be. The chefs placed the beef over a high grill
fire, searing it before placing it on an upper rack of the oven to roast to the
desired temperature. And with the maddening aroma of roast in the air, attendees
were told about the sweet properties of the Vidalia onion, which were parboiled
in milk with a bay leaf before being hulled to make space for the thinly sliced
breadfruit gratin with Gruyère cheese.

With
a side dressing of a tangy Herb Salsa, using a little champagne vinegar and
quantities of the Brasserie’s garden’s dill, chives, tarragon, basil and
garlic, the beef, once properly rested, was cut into roulandes. The meal’s
robust meaty flavour was cut by the crisp, astringent flavours of the salsa and
the velvety sweetness of the Vidalia onion. Such ahearty,so it

Coconut
Rice Pudding with jasmine rice flavoured with cardamom seeds and topped off
with mango compote tasted like manna and transformed what could have been a
bland dish into something decadent and special. Dessert was accompanied by a
chilled Chateau Manos Cadillac (France 2003).

Having
arrived as strangers hungry for knowledge, attendees left on nodding terms
after laughing together and breaking bread at a feast fit for kings.